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Monday, March 2, 2009

Chocolate Food - Braised Short Ribs: Recipe

If you were awake at all today then you know that the whole Northeast was blanketed by more than 6" of snow. Having arrived home yesterday from a trip - thanking goodness that I made it home before the storm - I grabbed my daughter and ran to the grocery store. A predicted snow-day would mean a need for tons of yummy food in the house.

On these days where the weather is cold and we're trapped in-doors (except for the hour + we spent in the snow), I hunger for slow, low, cooked foods. Sometimes it's a meat sauce or a pork roast, but yesterday at the store the short ribs caught my eye.

The flavor of meat combined with spice, cocoa, and chocolate was nearly sublime but I combined it, still, with a bottle of blueberry port wine. Now we're talking! If you don't have loads of time to cook this, don't even try it. I cooked these ribs for 5 hours. And to be honest, I could have easily cooked them another hour or longer - the meat was very tender but was not falling off the bone as I had longed for. Cook low and slow...

Chocolate and Blueberry Port Short Ribs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cocoa-chili spice
1 Tsp. paprika
4 lbs. beef short ribs
2 Turkish bay leaves
35 oz. can peeled tomatoes, chopped in a food processor (just the tomatoes, not the juice)
1 Tsp. olive oil
2 oz. prosciutto
1 large onion, slices thin
2 large shallots, sliced thin
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 parsley, chopped
1 tsp. oregano
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup blueberry port wine
1 1/2 Tbsp. grated bittersweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary

In a medium bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients and mix very well. Rub each rib fully with the mixture and secure in a plastic zip bag. Pour any remaining mixture into the bag. Seal it and shake well. Place in the fridge for an hour.

Heat oil over a large heavy pot. Add the prosciutto and saute for about 4 minutes over medium-high heat until the meat is crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

With the pot still over medium-high heat, raise it to high and sear the ribs, in batches, if necessary so as to not crowd the pot. Place each rib, meat side down, and brown each side for about 3-4 minutes per side. Once all ribs have been browned, remove them from the pot and add in the onions and the shallots. (There is likely to be a great deal of the brown sugar stuck to the bottom of your pot at this point - don't panic. The moisture from the onions and the remaining veggies will help you as you scape the bottom of the pot). Saute, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Next add in the celery and the carrots. Stir. Cover the pot and cook, over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes.

Next add in the wine, tomatoes, broth, garlic, parsley, and the oregano and bring liquid to a boil for about 5 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Add the prosciutto back into the pot and stir. Add the ribs back into the pot, meat side submerged, and cover nearly all the way. Cook over very low heat for about 2 hours. Remove the lid and stir the meat - always ensuring that the meat is submerged. Cook, uncovered, another 2-3 3 hours. Stir the ribs now and again during this time.

Remove the ribs and set aside. Remove the bay leaves and raise the temperature of the sauce to medium-high and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir well and allow it the boil about 4-5 minutes. Serve over the meat.

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